Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the weekend.
Friday brings us a loaded MLB slate. The Clubs and Reds kick things off this afternoon but there are 14 games under the lights after that. Our MLB analysts have a total of four bets on three of them: Dodgers vs. Rays, Cardinals vs. Rangers and Pirates vs. Including the Mariners.
Here are our highlights from the MLB slate on Friday, May 26.
MLB Best Bets for Friday, May 26
The team logos in the table below represent each matchup that our MLB betting staff has targeted from today’s schedule. Click on the team logos for the matches below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Dodgers vs. Rays
By BJ Cunningham
I honestly don’t think Syndergaard should be a pick in the Rays bullpen.
Noah Syndergaard is not the pitcher he was when he was with the Mets. Before Tommy John surgery, his fastball and fastball averaged over 97 mph. Now, every pitch he pitches averages under 93 mph, and since he was a power hitter before Tommy John, he can’t jump like he used to.
He’s given up his slider and is now throwing a cutter, which means he now only has one seed pitch, a changeup, and he’s the only one allowing an xwOBA below .300. He has a 5.11 xERA with a 1.31 BB/9 rate. Considering his K/9 rate is 6.53, it’s trying to be talked about, and it’s below the allowed average of 10% of MLB pitchers.
The Rays are the best lineup in baseball against right-handed pitching and have a +17.4 run rate against right-handed fastballs, changeups, cutters and sinkers, which are Syndergaard’s four main pitches.
The Rays are having another bullpen day with Jalen Bix as their opener and my guess is that the Dodgers are going to see all of the Rays left-handers, because the Dodgers are tough against lefties. Los Angeles has a .320 wOBA against lefties (two points higher than the A’s) versus a .340 wOBA against righties.
The Rays bullpen also throws the most cutters of anyone in baseball, while the Dodgers have a -2.1 run rate against cutters.
I have the Rays projected at -136, so I like the price on them at -110.
Select: Rays ML (-110)
Cardinals with guards
Cardinals overall over 3.5 (-133)
by DJ James
Shane Beiber is eating good luck this season. He has a 3.08 ERA against a 4.92 xERA, and that’s mainly due to his 93 mph average exit velocity and 50.5% hard hit rate. It won’t be easy when he and the Cleveland Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals, who are crushing right-handed pitching.
Matt Liberatore has thrown six innings in MLB this season, but Cleveland also struggles mightily with pitches. He has a 70 wRC+ and a .611 OPS against the Southpaws in May.
The emphasis here, however, is St. Louis’ abuse of Bieber, who should soon come back down to earth. The Cardinals have a 9.6% walk rate and .822 OPS combined with an MLB-best 125 wRC+ in May. The lineup has slowed down a bit over the past week, but Bieber is bound for a negative comeback.
Also, Cleveland’s bullpen has been strong, but has weak options. For example, James Karichak and Enyel de los Santos may have xFIPs over 4.00. They come into play because Bieber hits hard and gets out early.
Finally, the Cardinals have seven active hitters over a .330 xwOBA, so that’s a lot of power at the top of the order. Look for these reliable bats to get to Bieber early and force Cleveland’s weak arms into the game.
Take the Cardinals team over 3.5 (-133) and play to 4.5 (-110).
Select: Cardinals overall over 3.5 (-133)
Cardinals with guards
Shane Bieber over 5.5 shots (+100)
By Nick Shlain.
Shane Bieber’s strikeouts are down this season. He only has a 17% strikeout percentage, and has surpassed that number just twice in 10 starts.
This isn’t a good matchup for him hitting against the St. Louis Cardinals, as the Cardinals’ projected lineup has combined for a 19% strikeout percentage against right-handed pitchers this season.
The good news is that the Cardinals will likely have at least five left-handed pitchers on the field tonight. Bieber’s strikeout percentage against left-handed batters is 20 percent higher this year.
His recent form has also been encouraging. Bieber has completed at least six games in four of his five starts. He struck out nine batters in his last home start against the Detroit Tigers and will be here again at home.
I have Bieber here for the Six Strikes project and we’re getting him some extra money. What’s not to like?
Select: Shane Bieber over 5.5 shots (+100)
By Tanner McGrath
Mitch Keller. George Kirby.
Two of the best young players in the game right now.
I guess it’s hard to call Keller young, since he’s only five years old. However, he feels young because he’s finally getting the full offseason we’ve been waiting for. Keller’s extra chops and sweeps have made all the difference, as he has a sub 2.85 xERA this year.
Meanwhile, Kirby continues to pitch near-perfect innings, based mostly on preternatural command — he boasts a 2.2% walk rate and 111 Location+. It never forces a whisper like the others, but it has a place in the long drive.
Behind Keller and Kirby are two fully rested, locked bulls.
Seattle managed the best xFIP of any club in baseball last month, with guys like Trevor Gott, Justin Topa and Taylor Saucedo on the rise. At the same time, the Pirates ranked ninth in that statistic, thanks in large part to one of the deadliest in baseball.
Aiding every TV crew today is a pitcher-friendly weather report, with winds nearing 10 mph. BallParkPal projects -18% Run Factor for Friday night’s game at T-Mobile Park.
And against each of Pitcher’s staff today are two invisible offenses.
The Pirates cooled off significantly following a red-hot start in May, boasting the second-worst OPS (.604) and wRC+ (69). The Mariners are at least back to league average, but they are still hitting over 26%.
This is shaping up to be one of the ugliest games of the year. Overall is low at 7, but our Action PRO model puts the number at 6.5, so it has some value at low juice (-108 or better) below 7.
Also, the Mariners have a low-key high-five defense, which is always good to have in your back pocket.
Select: 7 under (-106)
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